Sunday, March 5, 2023

[Symposium Presentation] Coping with COVID-19: A Comparative Study on Cultural Immune Systems - Osaka, Japan

On March 4-5, 2023, I participated in an international symposium titled "A Comparative Study on Cultural Immune Systems" in Osaka, Japan, hosted by Japan's National Museum of Ethnology. As the organizers put it, the symposium aimed "to compare and analyze the ways in which the “cultural immune system” has been activated in response to COVID-19 in various Asian countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, and also consider other regions like Europe."

In my presentation, I talked about the ways in which certain COVID-19 cures figured in the ways political actors in Asia responded to the pandemic, in what I call "pharmaceutical messianism", with the following abstract that builds on my work with my research associate Vincen Gregory Yu on the subject: 

This presentation surveys some of the miracle cures or wonder drugs that were touted to treat or prevent COVID-19 in Asian countries - and analyzes the ways in which politicians and other prominent public figures in the region promoted them. While the phenomenon of ‘pharmaceutical messianism’ (Lasco and Yu 2022) has been described all over the world, this presentation also reflects on the particularities of Asian contexts that lead to the social and political efficacies of these products, regardless of their biomedical efficacy.

I would like to thank the organizers in Minkapu, including Ippei Shimamura and Sohee Che, for organizing the event and for inviting me to be part of it. 

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